Perry’s lame resurrection of “birtherism” a textbook non-issue

by Hayden Wright / Beacon Staff • October 27, 2011

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Whomever you vote for in 2012, he or she was incontrovertibly born in the United States.

Before the Republican presidential primary cycle had begun in earnest, debating the validity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was the distraction du jour for high-profile conservatives looking for face time on cable news. After all, “birtherism,” the belief that President Obama was not born in the U.S., was a cause that briefly made reality television fixture and real estate mogul Donald Trump a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.

Times changed. Electability became a priority. After caving to release his official Hawaiian birth certificate under tremendous pressure, the president has largely left conspiracy theorists who doubt his citizenship in the dust. What the so-called “liberal media” had long branded that line of questioning — racist, xenophobic, and distracting — was proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. Barack Hussein Obama II was born at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 4, 1961.

Despite this, Trump, your crazy uncle, and the tin-hat-wearing guy down the street may still wave the “he-was-born-in-Kenya” flag, but the mainstream Republican presidential field has remained above that particularly inane fray. That was until this week, when, in reaction to weak debate performances and declining support, Texas Gov. Rick Perry resurrected it.

“It’s a good issue to keep alive,” the governor told CNBC on Tuesday, after Parade Magazine reported Sunday he couldn’t say whether Obama’s birth certificate is real. “It’s fun to poke at him,” he told the network.

The governor went further to compare the publication of his dismal grades at Texas Aamp;M University to the faux-debate over the president’s nation of birth. Obama was born here, as documentation proves.  As documentation proves, Perry was a less-than-average student, whose transcript is checkered with C’s, D’s, and the occasional F. To equate those issues — one of whether college grades matter to becoming commander in chief, and another of whether to trust government-issued papers — is ludicrous.

To doubt the document stamped by the state registrar of Hawaii is as absurd as doubting your own birth certificate or driver’s license. The most believable of forged credentials might get you into bars on Boylston Street, but try pursuing Harvard Law School, the Senate, and the highest office in the land with the fake you bought from a friend of a friend online.

Obama even mocked the brouhaha surrounding his domestic birth at the White House correspondents’ dinner in April. Demonstrating the sense of humor his supporters so love about him, the president played the opening sequence of emThe Lion King/em, wherein the newborn Simba is presented to herds of African wildlife — to a crowd that included intrepid birther, Trump.

It’s no wonder that conservative mavens Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and the Rev. Pat Robertson chastised the Republican field of presidential candidates this week for coming across as too extreme.

“Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States,” Barbour told The Washington Post Tuesday. “It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the President.”

Robertson, who has for decades represented the most visible evangelical end of the conservative movement, delivered a similar sentiment this week.

“Those people in the Republican primary have got to lay off of this stuff,” he said on his televangelist talk-show, The 700 Club. “They’re forcing their leaders, the frontrunners, into positions that will mean they lose the general election.” The mainstream media widely interpreted his comments as a reaction to Perry’s “birther” rhetoric.

The pastor infamously condemned the people of Haiti for allegedly bringing a cataclysmic earthquake on their nation by making a pact with the devil to win independence from France. When a member of the Republican Party like Robertson calls for moderation, candidates like Perry ought to listen.

emHayden Wright is a junior writing, literature, and publishing major and the opinion editor of the Beacon. Wright can be reached at frederick_wright@emerson.edu. Follow him on Twitter @HaydenWright./em

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